Top 10 Albums of 2023

It’s been a great year for music, but did your favourite make the cut?

Top 10 Albums of 2023

2023 has been a fantastic year for music. We’ve seen a resurgence of independent releases, charting positions from movie soundtracks, and even more slow + reverb mixes. Thanks, TikTok. So, what are the best releases of the year? See if your favourite made the cut…

Bdrmm - I Don’t Know

The second release from shoegaze four-piece Bdrmm is a relaxed yet energetic body of work. With a blend of dreamy shoegaze and ethereal indie rock, the band creates an almost spiritual ambience that transports listeners to a hazy, otherworldly realm. Each track is a sonic tapestry, intricately woven with layers of shimmering guitars, pulsating basslines, and ethereal vocals that float effortlessly above the music. The album's dynamic range is impressive, seamlessly transitioning from gentle, introspective moments to explosive, cathartic crescendos. 'I Don't Know' is a sonic odyssey that evokes a sense of wonder and introspection, leaving listeners craving more of Bdrmm's enchanting soundscapes.

Grian Chatten - Chaos For The Fly

Taking a step away from his regular post in Irish punk band Fontaines D.C., Grian Chatten has cultivated a sombre, atmospheric and misanthropic record, peppered with orchestral arrangements and emotional introspection. Inspired by a seaside casino 30 miles North of Dublin, there’s a nervy sense of relatability in the raw lyrics and stripped-back acoustic nature in this record, creating a great sense of intimacy. A great listen especially to aggrandise an otherwise dull or routine journey.

Colin Stetson - When we were that what wept for the sea

Arriving with a sense of urgency, this release from multireedist Colin Stetson really shook up the 2023 music scene. If I were to summarise the record in three words, I would pick spontaneous, chaotic, and suspenseful. As an almost entirely instrumental tribute to his late father, the emotion channelled into every note transports listeners to another dimension of feeling. Difficult to ignore, this album is best listened to with undivided attention; each replay is certain to uncover something new.

Johnny Flynn - The Moon Also Rises

Released only a month ago, Johnny Flynn captured hearts with this timely wintry record. The musical equivalent of a hug, this collaboration with nature writer Robert Macfarlane is sure to romanticise the early sunset walks as the seasons continue to change. Rich with harmonies and folk tones, be sure to unwind with a nice cosy beverage to this one.

The National - Laugh Track

With two releases in one year, it’s hardly surprising that The National made the top ten. Smoke Detector’, the album’s closer, is easily one of the best songs to come from the band’s immense discography, namely due to the rambling chaos also present in ‘Space Invader’. Boasting the signature wistful lyrics and lonely-in-a-crowded-room overtones that have grown to be synonymous with The National, this record is proof that a band can grow into their sound comfortably and still deliver. 

Daughter - Stereo Mind Game

Prepare to embark on an enchanting and masterful musical journey, led by Daughter. With this release, the band effortlessly blends hauntingly beautiful vocals with sprightly instrumentals, working harmoniously to create a dreamy atmosphere. Each track on the album showcases the band's exceptional songwriting skills and their ability to evoke deep emotions. From start to finish, the record takes listeners on a transcendent experience, immersing them in a world of ethereal soundscapes and thought-provoking themes. Daughter's artistry shines through in this album, leaving a lasting impression on anyone who embarks on this wonderful musical voyage.

PJ Harvey - I Inside the Old Year Dying

The queen of ethereal world-building music, PJ Harvey, made a return this year with a collection of songs so beautiful it hurts. Adapted from her narrative book of poetry Orlam, released in 2022, the record imbues a heightened sense of reality entwined with fiction, emulating a hypnagogic state of relaxed omnipotence. Punctuated by field recordings, folk instruments and falsetto vocals, Harvey takes on the role of an earth-bound angel to tell the story of youth, ageing, and transition from life; if you want to be transported to a magical land beyond your imagination, this record is for you.

Blur - The Ballad of Darren

Returning from an eight-year hiatus, Britpop icons Blur returned with their ninth album, and possibly their strongest body of work yet. Leading single The Narcissist instilled an immediate anticipation amongst fans, who were equally thrilled by the following tour. Despite the time off, Damon Albarn’s ingenuity has not waned, and the rest of the band are in great form. The 70s lounge influence shines through wonderfully on this record to create a contemporary evolution of the Blur timeline and evidence further maturation in their ever-changing sound.

Young Fathers - Heavy Heavy

An album beyond categorisation, Heavy Heavy is a captivating and innovative masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of genre. The Scottish trio's unique blend of hip-hop, electronic, and alternative sounds creates a mesmerising sonic landscape that is experimental, yet without sacrificing accessibility. Through the infectious beats and haunting melodies, each track is a testament to their artistic prowess. The album's thought-provoking lyrics delve into themes of identity, love, and social commentary, delivering powerful messages with raw honesty. This record is a testament to Young Fathers' ability to create music that is both sonically adventurous and emotionally resonant, making it an essential listen for 2023.

Slowdive - Everything is Alive

Coming in hot at number one, Slowdive are strengthening proof that the nineties are back. Everything is Alive has proven to be its own form of free therapy this year. Entrancing and magical, the so-called ‘main character energy’ that the youth of today seem fascinated by has been not only harnessed, but mastered by the ambient champions of the 90s. Melodic yet powerful, sentimental and equally uplifting, there are simply no flaws on this record. Listen for a potent dose of euphoria and serenity.

So, there you have it! The top 10 albums of 2023. Don’t forget to leave a comment below with your favourite album of the year – or tell us if yours made the list! Here’s to more in ‘24.

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Author

Lucy Evans

Lucy Evans Kickstart

Media Sub-editor at Voice. Sign language enthusiast, frequent gig attendee, cloud enjoyer, artist, and volcano lover. I love bees.

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